After The Peak

I used to fret that I’ve passed the peak of my powers.
You know, like the Times talks about a novelist
“writing at the peak of her powers.” But that’s usually
the perspective of someone else, not the novelist.
Plus the peak is sometimes too much, like the autumn
leaves too gold, too red, almost unbelievable.
There are the colors that follow, fading shades less
brilliant but more courageous, more earthish.
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At First

God forbid, but if it were ever
to happen they predicted some
virulent outbreak, some
brutal interruption of their lives, some
threshold beyond which
everything was AFTER.
But that’s not how their
marriage found itself dystopic.
It came about hardly noticed,
the way nails grow, as
he would say I LOVE YOU and she
would turn to him and just say YES.
He thought it sweet at first, an
abbreviation of their aging comfortableness
with one another.
In some ways so did she, at first.
Or so she hoped.
Such are the sins of omission.
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A Tale of Juarez

Exactly why we bought the marble chess
set in Juarez I cannot say. I only remember
my father and mother carrying the heavy board
and paper bag of pieces through crowded streets
firecracker hot with the smell of mammon.
The set sat on our coffee table for years.
We learned the basics of the game but never moved
with much skill. We were more checker people.
But the heavy board and pieces served as icons
in the tale of the time the baptist preacher and his wife
jewed a man down one day in a reeky border town.
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In The Image

In addition to the Imago Dei
there are the Imagoes Pater and Mater.
Truth is we’re made in their image too.
Try as we might to completely shed that skin
there is always another fresher layer
breathing beneath, hungry for the light.
This is blessing and curse, and blessing.
This is how it has been from day one
(or day six if you’re a stickler), all of us
wriggling against the rocks of our shadows
trying to become other than our parents.
Salvation comes by way of the vox, that
gift bestowed that must then be earned.
This too is blessing and curse, and blessing.
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If you set aside the letter P
from the word POETRY
then what remains is OETRY.
And if you read what’s left like it looks
you have OH, TRY – 
which in my plebby opinion
is what my muse keeps singing
in a variety of musey ways
when I whine I’ve nothing to say.
     Yes, she sings. Doesn’t yours?
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The Way Home

Why I still save paper receipts I do not know
other than they are pages from our book of living.
I bought fourteen gallons of mid-grade gas Monday
so we could drive to Denver to enjoy hamburgers
and then shop for ripped-up blue jeans. All of this
is stored in my memory banks but should something go
haywire, go horribly haywire so I missed my trains
of thoughts these black and white slips serve as fragile
cairns so presumably a man could find his way home.
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Reflection of the Beloved Disciple on an Ordinary Autumn Day

It is still hard
to believe he’s gone.
The fault lines of our
heartbreak glare even
more now as months pass.
He returned for those fifty days
putting flesh on his prediction.
But just as we began to
breathe he went away again,
this time for good.
Now each sunrise is a
reluctant reconciliation,
an acceptance of our
given situation that it was
far better for us for him to go.
But today I am not comforted.
Today what I wouldn’t give for
an eyeful of sudden miracle
or an earful of what at first
sounded impromptu but
was as we later learned
a rehearsed conversation
with his first love.
How I wish I could turn around
and see him say
Go toward the light, my friend.
Just go toward the light.
*last two lines inspired by my friend Robert Benson
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